Several media outlets are reporting that Travelers Insurance has filed a lawsuit here in Central Florida seeking to avoid paying any money on behalf of the homeowners association in the neighborhood where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed. Although Trayvon’s parents have yet to sue anyone, it appears that they have presented a claim for wrongful death damages against the Retreat at Twin Lakes subdivision’s homeowners association.
Although none of the media reports included details about the parents’ claims, it would not surprise me to learn that the parents a proceeding under some sort of negligent security or negligent supervision theory. As I have discussed on this blog before, any entity responsible for owning or managing commercial property — from grocery stores to apartment complexes, to homeowners associations — has a duty to use reasonable care to make the premises safe for non-trespassing visitors under the circumstances.
From what we know about this particular case, it appears that George Zimmerman was well-known by the homeowners association to be an individual who involved himself in situations involving visitors to the neighborhood and often confronted people at the Retreat at Twin Lakes over what seemed to him to be security issues. Many media reports refer to him as a volunteer security guard on the premises. If a homeowners association knows about a person on its premises who is potentially dangerous or is causing problems for others, the homeowners association has a duty to reduce or eliminate that danger. One way might be to more closely supervise Mr. Zimmerman. Another way might be to ask Mr. Zimmerman to stop or to actually hire a security guard to do what Mr. Zimmerman thought he was doing.
Obviously, Travelers is trying to keep from paying out any money. As an Orlando negligent security attorney, I know that this is a typical response from an insurance company in a negligent security case. We are often faced with insurance companies trying to skate on coverage by relying on policy exclusions sometimes hidden in the small print of an insurance policy.
Here, Travelers is saying that it owes no coverage because Trayvon’s parents claim is actually a claim for wrongful employment practices, and therefore excluded. Travelers is also saying that the insurance policy at issue here is a “claims made” policy, and was purchased after Trayvon was killed.
A trial court judge will now take a look at the allegations made by the parents, and the insurance policy language, and make a decision about coverage. This decision will likely have a huge financial impact on both the homeowners’ association and Trayvon’s parents.
If you have any questions regarding a Florida negligent security case, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407-644-4444.